Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What do you call this? (the mat puzzle)

A few days ago my sister called and asked if I knew where she could buy some rubber floor matting. She wanted to cover up a floor grating in her vintage house. They have several cats, so she wanted something that was washable.

I told her that we had something in our house that would work. It was a set of 3/4 inch thick, gray, high-density foam mats made of two-foot square tiles that can snap together via dovetails on their edges, as is shown above. In a presentation those two images would convey the desired meaning instantly.

I thought that we got those mats from a home supply store (either Lowes or Home Depot). Then I did a web search to find what they were called (and where they could be purchased).

Were they called dovetail, modular, snap-together, tiled, or anti-fatigue mats? None of the above! They commonly are called puzzle mats (or play mats). Puzzle mats are a sober gray, while play mats are brightly colored.

Some mats even come with finishing strips that snap on the outer edges to make them straight lines. You also can find puzzle mats at sporting goods stores (like Dick’s), where they are sold to protect floors from exercise equipment like barbells.

After a glance at the two images you knew exactly what product I was describing. Contrast that with the phrase “puzzle mats.” Based on hearing it, did you even get the right picture?

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